From the Floor and the Heart, Senators Make an Issue Personal

Daniel L. Squadron

December 04, 2009

By Michael M. Grynbaum

ALBANY — Ruth Hassell-Thompson was a young girl decades ago when her older brother, a gay man, vanished from her deeply religious family, moving away to escape their disapproving father.

Ms. Hassell-Thompson, 67, searched for years, finally finding him in a village in the south of France. When she urged him to come home, he said that “my father doesn’t want to see me.”

“But your sister does,” Ms. Hassell-Thompson recalled telling him, her voice breaking as she stood on the Senate floor on Wednesday and publicly revealed her brother’s story for the first time.

Ms. Hassell-Thompson, a Democratic state senator from Westchester who grappled over whether to support the legalization of same-sex marriage, said she ultimately could not oppose a bill that would have eased the pain of her brother’s life.

Complete article found in the New York Times